Urban And Regional Planning – A Conceptual Overview

planning is an act that we carry out in our day to day. Every individual makes one plan or the other. There are strategic plans, economic plans etc, but planning in this sense is in relation to the discipline of urban and regional planning otherwise known as town planning and or physical planning.

Planning has been defined in a plurality of ways but the sum is that it is an orderly arrangement of spatial phenomenon. Planning is also carried out to ensure harmony among the various spatial attributes within a given space.
The Nigerian Institute of Town planners (NITP) for instance defines planning as “Being concerned with the spatial ordering of land use both in urban and rural setting for the purpose of creating functionally efficient and aesthetically pleasing physical environment for living, working, circulation and recreation”. Obateru 2003; Sees physical planning as synonymous with land-use planning, spatial planning, urban and regional planning and town and country planning. Agbola and Oladoja (2004) feel urban and regional planning tries to guide and control the variety of the changing activities in a constantly changing environment of the planned area. That it tries to develop the capacity that is necessary to accommodate the impact of various changes”.
There is need for an ordered environment because human beings generally would always act without due consideration for the environment. He does not consider the consequences of his actions on the immediate environment and even the larger environment in the long run. An individual who has a plot of land would understand normal circumstances, want to utilize the whole land without considering how the next person will access his or her own plot unless certain restrictions are placed on him. This is why planning cannot be ignored. To fail to plan is to plan for chaos. And no responsible government or civilised society would be prepared for chaos. As population increases and people concentrate in one place the need for planning becomes obvious.
The social purpose of planning includes how the environment created today will meet the demands of tomorrow, the environment will satisfy the pluralistic values and attendant needs of identified groups of people.

All activities arising from needs, individually,and collectively expressed co-exist in harmony and investments, conveniences, functionality, living and working within the environment are maximized. (NITP, 1997)

1. The promotion of accessibility, accessibility of homes to work, shops, schools, and entertainment; of industry to sources of labour, power, and raw materials and so on.
2. The employment of resources as economically as possible, so as to achieve the greatest possible measure of improvement with necessarily limited means.
3. The separation of incompatible land uses from each other and the association of compatible or mutually helpful uses.
4. The carrying out of all development in a visually pleasant a manner as is practicable.

Keeble (1968) feels that planning as a complete process, requires all aspects and implications of the physical development of land to be taken into account and fitted into a pattern designed with the object of making a region or a community as a whole into an effective, and within limits, self contained organism.

Design which is the subject of this discourse is a vital tool for the modification of existing urban environment. “Urban design” emerged as part of a critique of the urban environmental products, a critique of the process of development by which it is brought about and a critique of the professional roles involved in controlling it”. (Bantlay, 1978). Taking a holistic view of the environment as an urban design.
Gibberd (1976) feels “the urban development is so complicated that the design for a town must in the first place be shown symbolically in the form of a two-dimensional plan”.

Studio work is often misunderstood by people outside of environmental science discipline. The concept may be likened to a laboratory or better a workshop where students of environmental studies in general carry out practical aspect of their training. The training a student receives in Urban and regional planning are both theoretical and practical. The practical. The practical aspect is what is referred to as studio work for convenience. The acquisition of theoretical knowledge must be complemented with practical skill acquisition for the training to be complete. Otherwise the student may find it extremely difficult to face a real life situation. Success in urban and regional planning depends largely on how well an individual can transform the theoretical knowledge into useful practical activities.
The studio is essentially a classroom, but what distinguishes it from a normal classroom is the arrangement and the type of equipment found there. For instance a typical studio in the context of urban and regional planning must contain short or long tables built to some specifications where students and designer can conveniently place their drawing boards, tables with light fittings which is used when an enhanced illumination is required or when tracing is required etc. Soft board for mounting drawings during general presentation. In addition to all these equipment the room must be well lit.

The concept of studio work is also used interchangeably with design. Dove et al (1967) view design as the art of developing original or existing idea and expressing them in the form of drawings and may take one of the following forms:
. Minor modifications to existing designs
. Development of existing designs involving major modifications so that the final design may differ considerably from the original design and
. New design fields involving original idea.

There are basic procedures in carrying out design in urban and regional planning studies otherwise known as physical planning.
There is need to first identify the design work for a particular class, client or purpose. For academic purpose each class has a minimum of two design works, one in each semester. The titles for the design work may include comprehensive design, structural plan, village design, residential layout, urban renewal etc.
The next step is for the lecturer to have an introductory class with the students. This will enable the lecturer or instructor to give out the design brief to the students. It also allows one on one interaction to give out the design brief to the students. It also allows one on one interaction to clear areas of ambiguity in the design. Apart from the brief which must be typed, the discussion must include the type of design e.g Urban renewal. The theoretical background to such subject matter and what is expected of the student.
Once the brief has been received, the students can now commence his work in earnest. As a matter of style, some instructors or coordinators may want to spur the student into action by giving them assignments on the subject matter to enable them have an insight into the topic, if not already known.
The next stage is site selection. The students are supposed to select appropriate site for the work.
In selecting a site, the first thing is to appraise the alternative sites available, determining all site features and their relative importance to the proposed function. Helpful tools that can be used in making the right conclusion, if they are available, include:aerial photographs, geographical survey maps, zoning maps, city or township maps amongst others.
Once an appropriate site has been selected the student need to look for the base materials which will help in facilitating the work. Some information needed during site investigation, which form part of the general information that may be sought by the student during field investigation include the site plan, survey plan to locate the site in relation to existing settlements and major land marks and to ensure conformity with the site plan or base map with physical features, topography, rivers, streams, the drainage pattern, gully route, outcrop, hills, man-made features, historical facts, vegetation types, approach roads or access roads and internal reticulation of footpath networks and other relevant information as possible from the field to enable them come up with very good designs and to avoid the problem of making repeated visits to sites due to deficiency in information earlier gathered.
The success of the design depends largely on the base maps. It must be noted that most maps are deficient thus students need to be careful in selecting maps. Maps must also be updated. Map update is a process of reconciling what is on ground with what is already on map. The two may be at variance because of so many factors such as time lag, poor initial preparation etc. Wherever possible it is most desirable to prepare special base maps in the form of adaptations of published ordinance maps.
Keeble (1968) defined base map as a map which shows the existing physical pattern of land, upon which survey information or planning proposals are superimposed. It is important to note that for it to serve the intending purpose or be considered perfect, it must be capable of providing enough detail to make the information superimposed on it fully comprehensible. He went further to identify four base maps on a regional scale.
1. Diagrammatic, to show in barest outline the pattern of the area, on this would be presented data such as flows and service areas for which extent and boundaries only are important and intervening detail is no more than a distraction.
2. Physical features, which emphasizes topography and shows relatively little information about artificial features.
3. Man-made features, on which the emphasis is the reverse of that on (2). This would be used for more detailed information regarding service areas and accessibility than could be shown on (1) but it’s more important use would be for the presentation of outline planning proposals and survey analysis in cartoon form for special purposes.
4. General purposes, for presenting subject matter without any special bias towards natural or artificial features. Outline of existing land use and land use proposals are examples of subjects for which this base would be used.

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The next stage is writing of proposal by the student. This varies form one design to another and from one instructor to another. In most cases students are expected to prepare a general proposal and also prepare specific proposals by each participating students. The essence is to ensure that every student participate fully and are fully aware of what the whole process entails. From experience, individual proposals is also very helpful because it exposes the student’s weakness and also gives room for improvement.
Once the proposal has been accepted, then the work begins for administrative convenience and effectiveness of work it is advisable to divide the students into convenience groupings depending on the level of work involved, the time frame for conclusion (time schedule) and the deliverables that is required of the student. Sometimes the deliverables might include maps, plans sketches and even models.
It is advisable to have sizeable groups to ensure that all the students participate fully. There is need to identify all the works involved and assign the students to specific aspects of the work.
It must be noted however that even though some students have assigned to specific aspect of the job, student should be aware of what goes on in other groups so that they will have a proper grasp of the whole process. It is not uncommon to find students unable to speak about other aspects of the design apart from the one assigned to his or her group. This shows that he student has failed to interact with other groups in the class, for the purpose of acquainting himself/herself of the whole work.
There is also the need to identify the talent of each student and put them into suitable groups.
Another major aspect of the studio work is the presentation of work or designs before a Jury. This is necessary to he able to access the quality of job produced by the student, and also to ascertain the level of participation of each student and finally to award marks. It is advisable that work be prepared in neat and smart format for presentation. Most designs are now presented in Auto CAD format. The students must also be well dressed as this forms a major part of the whole exercise.

The planning brief is a summary of a proposed project. They are few statements that summarises the expectations of the client. This becomes necessary to prepare the planner ahead of what is expected of him by his client. Brief gives a picture of the main work, the main focus and the direction and from this the deliverables will emerge.
The information is intended to guide the consultant on the right course of action in arriving at his proposal. Bamisile (2005) sees the brief as that which is evolved by the client normally with the aid of his professional advisers. Briefs must not only present accurately and clearly his requirements and be measurable, but should maintain strategic control throughout the duration of the project.
The brief will eventually lead to the proposal. The proposal must maintain the following according to NITP code of conduct.
1. Background experience of firm
2. Special experience relevant to the project being sought.
3. Competence and experience in government or other public service procedure and requirement.
4. An itemized account of the tasks to be undertaken and factors to be examined in carrying out the work ( i.e. technical, approach and methodology )
5. Names of consultant staff to be assigned to the work together with individual responsibilities and past experience.
6. Work schedule in form of a bar chart indicating the time scale and completion dates for each aspect of the work.
7. Details of how the consultant would manage the work together with an indication of back up support (NITP code of conduct )

The following is an example of a typical design brief for students of urban regional planning. Two have been selected for the purpose of this discussion. One from ordinary diploma level and one from higher national diploma level.
The goal of this design work is to provide student with the skills to develop a master plan for the future growth of a selected urban settlement. While the general objectives include :
1. Understand the concept of comprehensive plan.
2. Understand the concept of comprehensive urban development and it’s application to small and medium size settlement.

The goal of this design work is to provide student with the knowledge and skills for correcting blight and absolenscence society. While the general objectives include the following :
1. Understand the basic principles or urban renewal.
2. Know how to conduct practical studies of selected blighted area.
3. Know the relationship between society and town planning.
Planning as an activity requires guidance on n a planned direction and based on certain principles rather than being arbitrary. Thus Obateru (2005) gave the fundamental features to all forms of planning as
1. Coordination of the goals laid down by the various government instrumentalities through the assignment of priorities to them (goals)
2. A forecast of the resources required to achieve the goals followed by a allocation of the resources to the goals on priority basis and
3. The establishment of a central body or agency to be responsible for (1) and (2), thus planning enables one to achieve the desired objective through the most desirable path.
Urban design should enhance visual elements of the physical city by increasing their aesthetic appeal, their significance as reference points in the often undifferentiated city space, and their contribution to civic awareness and pride.
The designer should be mindful of errors in measurement. It is generally believed that errors would necessarily come into your work, the idea is to try as much as possible to reduce these errors by adopting procedures that will give the highest level of accuracy.
These errors in measurement come from 3 principal sources personnel or human error, instrumental errors and natural errors.
Students must ensure at all time that they indicate in their work the source of the information. They should also evaluate the source of materials to determine the authenticity of the data. The maps must be clear, legible and we’ll placed. It is not uncommon to see students use materials which are not properly referenced and this usually creates problems for the students especially during presentation before a jury. A table for instance must be well drawn, must show the source, year and appropriate title, otherwise the whole idea of using the table may become defeated. This information applies to other materials used such as maps, figures etc.